If You Wish To Make an Apple Pie…


If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
— Carl Sagan

I went to the farmers market today. I had a few things on my list. In particular I was hoping to find a grower that had padron peppers, a small green pepper that you toss lightly in olive oil and quickly sauté in a hot cast iron skillet until they are blistery. I found a shishinto pepper at two growers. I did break down and get them and as I walked through the stall I saw they had early apples.

Early apples. Yellow transparents.

These apples are the stuff that a million memories are made of. When I was a kid in Brookings, there were two houses that had yellow transparent apple trees. One was Mrs. Quam’s. Her tree was on an alley and I would ride my stingray bike (purple to pink fade) home from the pool, detouring through the alley and grab an apple off the tree as I cruised by. The second was the house at the corner of 7th and 16th. There were three trees along the street. They were also in grabbing distance on a bike.

Yellow transparents are not an eating apple. They are crazy sour and when you cut them, they turn brown quickly. Mom bought that house at the corner with the apples, and suddenly my summers were filled with apples. Like determinate tomatoes, these trees bore fruit heavily in a short span of days. There was one summer where we sat and peeled apples, slicing them into fat quarts for pies until our thumbs were brown from whatever chemical turns the apples brown. Those quarts ended up in the freezer for winter pies.

But today I had to buy them. Never was there a less likely day for pie baking. Humid and warm, not a good day for turning on the oven to 425 or for making pastry. But I had to do it.

When I cut into the first apple, the subtle smell was the same. I bit into a piece, and I got the familiar tightening at the back of my jaw. My sister is coming for dinner and, well, I had to share with her the apples, and the pie. So I saved two. I only wish they still had leaves clinging to them.


And I did find padron peppers, by the way.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Matt Tabor says:

    Too many memories and funny stories about the apples to put in a post. I learned to juggle while supposedly picking up the windfalls. I too often would end up submerging up to my knee in the tiger pit of “mulching” apples in the back orchard. I constantly cursed the low branches while “peeling” the fallen apples with the lawn mower. But the pies Grandma D would make made me forget the drudgery, at least for the moment.

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      That was quite a heady aroma back there by the pile of apples, at least that I remember. Orange, brown mush covered in wasps.

      Drudgery indeed, but delicious results.

      Best. Damn. Pie.

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